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Time to deal with Derry's 'lazy' attitude - Barton - The Irish News
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Sport

Time to deal with Derry's 'lazy' attitude - Barton

New Derry manager Damian Barton at Owenbeg on Monday night
Picture: Margaret McLaughlin  
Brendan Crossan in Owenbeg

THERE’S a new sheriff in Derry. Damian Barton, a lauded member of the class of ’93, was unveiled to the media in Owenbeg last night and he left reporters in no doubt of who’s in charge and what it will take to wear the Oak Leaf jersey next year.

In his 31-minute round-table press conference, Barton (53) seemed dismayed by player apathy in his native county in recent years and believed it was time to instil a new set of “values” in the county team. During the most candid of debut interviews, the Newbridge clubman delivered a scathing assessment of the 2015 squad and the “very lazy attitude” they adopted that saw them relegated to Division Two.

“I thought that last year players adopted a very lazy attitude and I think that it was very difficult for the management,” he said.

“They [the players] had a perception that they over-worked the year before [2014] and that they peaked too early. Well, I just can’t understand what peaking too early means. They changed [approach] last year at the behest of the players and so it went, and stuttered. I think the players have to accept a lot of responsibility for that.”

After Derry defeated Down in the Ulster Championship this summer they fell to Donegal in the semi-finals. They eased past Wexford in the All-Ireland Qualifiers before losing to Galway in Salthill in the next round.

Known in managerial circles as a strict disciplinarian, the 1993 All-Ireland winning centre-forward is keen to create a ‘Club Derry’ scenario and stressed the importance of getting things right in his first year in charge.

“I’m not doing this for any other reason unless I’m doing it right,” he said.

“I have one chance to get the first year of this job right. This is not a club team. I’ll be expected to get it right. I don’t want to look back next year and have wasted people’s time.”

He added: “I think the players need to realise that they have a huge responsibility. I’ll be expecting a buy-in from them. I’ll be expecting them to look back at their heritage. I have an appreciation, as you get older, where you come from.

“There are many great footballers who have represented Derry with great distinction; sometimes players forget what they’re representing. In the recent past, I think some of our players have forgotten that.”

The much-travelled Barton revealed former Tyrone player Brian McGuckin would be part of his backroom team and that Tony Scullion would be involved in an “advisory capacity, as will many of my colleagues from ’93. I won’t be afraid to lift the phone to some of them.”

On McGuckin’s strengths, he said: “Brian is young and ambitious and I like what he does and the relationship he strikes up with his players, and that’s a very important thing.”

Eoghan Bradley of Killyclogher is likely to be strength and conditioning coach while Barton has asked former Derry goalkeeper Mickey Conlon “to consider” coming on board as goalkeeping coach.

Former boss Brian McIver has been named Director of Football in the county.

On the former Ballinderry manager’s appointment, Barton said: “I don’t know the remit but I know Brian is a great fella and I have no doubt I will be asking his advice on some issues. 

“You can’t beat experience. Brian has managed Donegal and Derry and was involved in Down.”

Barton, who has managed Kilrea, Slaughtneil, Burren and UUJ, was linked to the Derry job on a couple of occasions over the last decade but admitted the timing wasn’t right.

“I had the opportunity eight or nine years ago and the circumstances weren’t right at that time. 

“It didn’t work out. It was something I always wanted to do. It’s a tremendous honour, a privilege. When I was asked it just felt right. You’ve a gut feeling and I wasn’t going to pass it by. I’m just happy to have the opportunity.”

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